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Fantasy on Be Still for the Presence of the Lord


Peter Clark
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I just received the score of this recently published work (reviewed in the latest issue of Laudate) and I have always had a fondness for this partular hymn/worship song which is quite profound textually and musically despite its apparent simplicity. I am very pleased with this Fantasy which establishes a different but not disrespctful harmonic language to support and enhance the theme. The piece starts fairly simply but by system 3 we are already treading distinctive harmonic waters. There are some harmonies here which I can only describe as "lush"! The middle section sees the subject treated with a increasing sense of drama and intensity and it returns to the mood (though not the music) of the opening for a calm conclusion. It is thus arguably Howellsian in structure but the similarity ends there. I would put it at about grade 7-8 standard. No awkward scale passages or double pedalling; there is some challenging though not insurmountable work for the left had from pages 5 to 7. Helpful fingering and pedal suggestions are given, though there are no registration suggestions (which I for one find a relief!) though manual indications are included.

 

One or two misprints - at bar 26 RH an a flat appears clearly intended for bar 27; similarly at bars 32/3 RH the flat which is semingly intented to modify the a in bar 33 appears in bar 32. These are however minor quibbles in what is an excellent production.

 

This would make an striking recital piece (which is what I mean to do) as well as a fitting outgoing voluntary - which I will probably also do (though not before putting it in a recital programme). As the hymn itself is an effective opening hymn for a service playing the Fantasy as a final voluntary could evoke a satisfying sense of completion.

 

It is available from Organist Publications (see their website for contact details).

 

Happy playing!

 

Peter

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This would make an striking recital piece (which is what I mean to do) as well as a fitting outgoing voluntary - which I will probably also do (though not before putting it in a recital programme). As the hymn itself is an effective opening hymn for a service playing the Fantasy as a final voluntary could evoke a satisfying sense of completion.

 

Our vicar did once put it down as an opener, but one of the servers did point out the irony of singing 'Be still' in procession! I've actually got it down for this Sunday as the gradual hymn, but it is of course equally at home sung during communion (however it is one of those hymns which is very popular and well-known so I try not to always confine it to the communion slot, a principle which I do apply to a number of the more modern numbers our vicar likes!).

 

The piece itself sounds very interesting though. I can't seem to find it on the website (I assume its not up yet) - how much is it Peter?

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Our vicar did once put it down as an opener, but one of the servers did point out the irony of singing 'Be still' in procession! I've actually got it down for this Sunday as the gradual hymn, but it is of course equally at home sung during communion (however it is one of those hymns which is very popular and well-known so I try not to always confine it to the communion slot, a principle which I do apply to a number of the more modern numbers our vicar likes!).

 

The piece itself sounds very interesting though. I can't seem to find it on the website (I assume its not up yet) - how much is it Peter?

 

It costs £8.00 including p&p. My misprint information is wromg - for bars 32/3 read 34/5!

 

P

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Guest Patrick Coleman

I'm sure Lyndon would find the piece interesting. the song is one of our favourite postcommunions.

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I'm sure Lyndon would find the piece interesting. the song is one of our favourite postcommunions.

 

Certainly worth getting, Patrick. I have studied the score both at the console and at home for about 3 hours today and I think it a piece that will satisfy both player and congregation.

 

Peter

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Our vicar did once put it down as an opener, but one of the servers did point out the irony of singing 'Be still' in procession! I've actually got it down for this Sunday as the gradual hymn, but it is of course equally at home sung during communion

The arrangement in New English Praise is well worth investigating if you've not seen it already.

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How refreshing to have a modern hymn that is genuinely appreciated by both laypeople and professional musicians and nice that it has proved sufficiently music-worthy for someone to write what sounds like a quality piece of organ music around it. I wish it success.

 

Contrabombarde

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The arrangement in New English Praise is well worth investigating if you've not seen it already.

 

I have looked at the arrangement - I'm not entirely convinced by it I'm afraid. I think it tries to force some over-elaborate harmonies in places.

 

I find the original harmonies to be fairly successful. I add in a few passing notes, and turning the D major chord at the end of the third line into a seventh is an absolute must, but otherwise its pretty strong. Some things are best kept simple.

 

Yes, it is an excellent hymn - nothing complicated, but really effective whether sung by thousands or by a dozen.

 

I look forward to enjoying the organ piece too!

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I find the original harmonies to be fairly successful. I add in a few passing notes, and turning the D major chord at the end of the third line into a seventh is an absolute must, but otherwise its pretty strong. Some things are best kept simple.

 

 

I look forward to enjoying the organ piece too!

 

In line 2 of verse 3 I make the Amaj suspended/resolved chord into a two minim Aminor7-D7 (root position) (second minim alto voice g-f# on crotchets).

 

Peter

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In line 2 of verse 3 I make the Amaj suspended/resolved chord into a two minim Aminor7-D7 (root position) (second minim alto voice g-f# on crotchets).

 

Peter

 

I did this in the service on Sunday (without having tried it beforehand) and thought it sounded very effective, heightening the anticipation in the third verse. Thanks Peter - will do it again!

 

I now have the piece here and hope to spend a little time on it tonight - just a cursory play-through perhaps to get a feel for it. However, I do have a very busy Sunday coming up so one play-through might be all it will get for now!

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Having now had a play-through, I am suitably impressed with this, and would echo everything that Peter said. Some of it is rather dischordal (but not unattractively so - would just require some work to get it right), particularly in the build-up, but it then resolves back into the original key at fff for a glorious playthrough. The LH work is fast but mostly repeated pattern, so its just a matter of getting it co-ordinated in.

 

I think it would be very effective - it sounds quite fresh to me, and is certainly a little bit different. Recommended!

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